How did humans domesticate cats and tame their wildcat instincts?
Turns out, there’s a long history between humankind and cat-kind. It was discovered that all domestic cats came from the same ancestor, the African wildcat, or Felis silvestris lybica.
By examining DNA from ancient cats of the Stone Age, Viking era and Ancient Egypt, scientists have been able to track that cat domestication first started in Middle East and Egypt before spreading throughout Europe and afterward, the entire world.
Around 6,000 years ago, humans in the Near Eastern (modern day Middle East) civilizations first started domesticating cats to catch the rats eating the grain farmers grew. Thousands of years later, cats similarly joined Egyptian civilization and became a part of their culture, from the cat god to mummified cats (which were also used in the cat genetic study today!)
During Roman times, these felines spread throughout areas around the Mediterranean Sea (the Roman empire) and continued to move throughout Europe. Vikings in Europe brought cats with them on ships to catch the hidden rats aboard. Afterward, the cats followed humans wherever they went and continued to appear in different areas until where they are now - found in all parts of the world except Antarctica.